Alejandro Aranda has been wowing them on “American Idol” since March 6. He says he’s a dishwasher from Pomona, a description that, combined with his humble manner and way with an acoustic ballad, have made him a sensation. I delve into his recent past as an open mic and street performer in Pomona and Claremont in Sunday’s column. Photo from March 30 Pomona appearance by Liliana Pardo.
Localchella concerts come to downtown Pomona once again. I have the list in Wednesday’s column. Plus: Record Store Day news and, you may be relieved to learn, a few items that are not about music.
I’ve done Localchella column items the past few years and those columns end up in my Top 10 most-viewed online for that year. Probably they’re getting a lot of Google search traffic. No fool I, I make a point of writing them the next year too. Besides, it’s nice to occasionally serve a younger audience — something I, and newspapers in general, should probably be doing more of.
I heard an unfamiliar 1960s song while watching the documentary on the moon landing, paid attention during the credits to see who sang it and was floored to find that it was by the late John Stewart, who spent his teen years in Claremont. That leads off Wednesday’s column, followed by some Culture Corner items and a Valley Vignette.
I follow up my column on “the day the music died” with a local angle. A hokey tribute song, “Three Stars,” that was hit a few weeks after the Feb. 3, 1959 plane crash that killed Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and the Big Bopper was written by a disc jockey in San Bernardino. There’s some Culture Corner items and a Vignette too, all in Sunday’s column.
I’d been wanting to write about John York for at least a year, and probably longer; I first saw him perform in 2007. The longtime local musician was in a famous band, the Byrds, albeit after their hit-making days were past. Finally, he’s the subject of Wednesday’s column in advance of a benefit concert Saturday at the Claremont Forum.
Ellen Harper runs Claremont’s famed Folk Music Center, a music shop established by her parents in 1958. At 71, she’s released her first solo record. I like it. I profile her in my Wednesday column.
A new book, “The Big Note,” chronicles all 1,663 Frank Zappa recordings, including a few from his Inland Valley years. It’s for diehards only. That leads off Wednesday’s column, followed by reader reactions to my column last month about not being to ride a bike, a Culture Corner and a Valley Vignette.
Let me tell you about the photo that accompanies the column. After deciding Tuesday morning on deadline to lead with the Zappa item, I was faced with how to illustrate a column about a book. For online purposes, we are pretty much limited to horizontal photos, as a vertical photo takes up about a foot of space and looks too funky. So a photo of strictly the cover was out. What to do, what to do…
Suddenly, a brainstorm: I would use the giant, vintage map on the wall by my desk as a backdrop. Without leaving my chair, I held up the book and positioned it to get both Pomona and Cucamonga’s names in the frame. (The map stops short of Ontario.) It took three frames, as the first one had my thumb over the author’s name (see above) and the second had too much glare off the shiny cover. Secrets behind the columns!
Tweeting live from Coachella, my colleague Liset Marquez reports that in Sunday’s appearance, Cold War Kids singer Nathan Willett introduced “Drive Desperate” this way: “I just wanna say, we namecheck Pomona in this song.” The crowd, alas, did not go wild. (If they had, I would have a book to recommend.)
The lyrics, from their 2014 album “Hold My Home,” begin like this: “The road/a yellow line unfolds/Jagged then corrodes/Pomona first of all/Machines they rush in a trance…”
I can’t really tell you what it’s about, certainly driving, maybe street racing? The band formed in Fullerton, by the way, and is based in Long Beach. Anyway, no video from Coachella is available, but above is the band performing the song at another festival, Lollapalooza, in 2015.
Wednesday’s column revisits the matter of Frank Zappa’s apparent attendance at Claremont High in the early 1950s — with the discovery of a yearbook with his signature in it. Other pieces of Zappa information are also explored.
As is well documented, Frank Zappa lived in Ontario in the early 1960s, near the musicians’ store Ontario Music. But it was still cool to see these business cards unearthed by his son Dweezil recently and posted on Twitter.